Liverpool Arab Arts Festival announces full line-up for 2022 edition
Ten day festival of Arab music and culture takes place from 7-17 July.
Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF) has revealed its full programme of events for the
2022 edition, curated around the theme ‘A Point of Connection’ – Nuqtat Wasl in Arabic,
and marking 20 years since the first festival was held in the city.
Earlier this year, festival fans welcomed the news that the one-and-only Family Day will return to Sefton Park Palm House after a two-year hiatus brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Taking place on Sunday 17 July the spectacular free finale will feature music, traditional food and family fun.
Live music performances on the day include festival favourites TootArd, with the
trailblazing duo from the Golan heights returning to Liverpool with a new album and a
new sound – an 80s Arabic style blend with modern synth.
They’ll be joined at the Palm House by first-time festival performer Aar Maanta, who
brings an eclectic mix of styles to the stage, with rock and reggae rubbing shoulders
with traditional Arabic and Somali music. Described by young Somalis as “the voice of
our generation” the pop star will bring his full band to the Palm House stage. The
internationally renowned pop star’s latest album, Ubadkaa Mudnaanta Leh, which
means “Children Have Priority’ was recorded with young Somali children in Minneapolis.
The musical line-up also includes Gazelleband – Palestinian oud player Reem Anbar
with writer musician Louis Brehony who bring the modern traditions of the middle east to
the wider world. Plus long-time Family Day friends Yemeni band Al Awadhel Band will
The Family Day crowd will also get the chance to experience Hawiyya Dance
Company and El-Funoun Palestinian Dance Troupe’s unique blend of Dabke and
contemporary dance, while poet Ali Al-Jamri will bring a unique display of local
children’s poetry and provide young visitors with the chance to add their own work.
Elias Matar will be performing interactive storytelling sessions for Family Day. Join Elias
as he takes us on a journey across borders, walls, and time. Great for all ages – a
chance to discover the secrets, magic, and joy of live storytelling.
Liverpool Arab Arts Festival is also delighted to finally welcome N3rdistan in person to
the city, with a live performance at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Music Room on
Thursday 7 July, as the festival launches.
In 2020, when the pandemic led organisers to programme a digital festival, N3rdistan
wowed audiences with their performance from a hilltop in Andorra. The very essence of
modern Arabic music, N3rdistan combine mystical tunes, compelling rhymes and a
relentless flow by the charismatic Walead Ben Selim. Book N3rdistan tickets here.
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Music Room will also host another ever-popular inclusion
on the festival programme, on Friday 15th July. The London Syrian Ensemble, led by
composer and Ney soloist Louai Alhenawi, is a stunning collective of eight musicians
and graduates from Syria’s renowned Damascus Conservatoire. This show reveals their
new project, Sounds of Syria, a dynamic and emotional work, which brings to the stage
new instrumental arrangements by composers from Syria and its diaspora. Book The
London Syrian Ensemble tickets here.
Original poems written by diasporic Yemeni communities in the UK, and presented in
both English and Arabic, will be exhibited across venues in Liverpool during the festival
for Yemen in Conflict, an ongoing collaboration between Liverpool Arab Arts Festival,
the University of Liverpool and the University of Leeds which asks how storytelling might
heighten and enhance both political and public awareness of the situation in Yemen.
The material created so far includes the creation of a new archive of transcribed and
translated Yemeni oral poems and stories that addressed themes of conflict and
Other highlights of the 2022 programme already announced include Curfew, a
contemporary dance production presented by Hawiyya Dance Company and
El-Funoun Palestinian Dance Troupe at Unity Theatre. Supported by British Council
and Arts Council England. Book Curfew tickets here.
An exhibition by the Arab Image Foundation brings rare photographs depicting 100
years of Arab history and culture, which are never previously seen in Europe. Artists
from Beirut Printmaking Studio have created new etchings in response to the
photographs. The exhibition will be held at Liverpool John Moores University’s
Exhibition Research Lab at the School of Art and Design alongside a new video
commission by emerging British-Algerian artist Hannaa Hamdache.
A day of workshops and talks will be held at the Exhibition Research Lab on Friday 8
July. This includes a poetry workshop by Hannaa Hamdache, a printmaking workshop
by artist Tarek Mourad, and a talk featuring members of the Arab Image Foundation and
Beirut Printmaking Studio.
The festival offers a range of other opportunities for people to get involved through
artist-led sessions, including a free family-friendly workshop at World Museum Liverpool
make your own maps with artist Jessica El Mal.
Mezzo Soprano Camille Maalawy will lead a choir performance workshop in the heart
of Toxteth, the centre of Liverpool’s Arabic community at Merseyside Yemeni
The 2022 edition sees LAAF creating ‘points of connection’ outside of the city centre,
and in the community. A Journey to Yemen at Merseyside Yemeni Community
Association will launch Yemen in Conflict, a new publication of poetry from diasporic
Yemeni communities in the UK, written in both English and Arabic. It will also feature
screenings, talks and food.
Elsewhere in the programme Connecting with Yemeni Elders’ Heritage is an exciting
intergenerational project that is being delivered by National Museums Liverpool
alongside partners from the Yemeni community in Liverpool, and there will be
opportunities to take part in this project during the festival.
Liverpool Arab Arts Festival and SAFAR Film Festival have curated a series of
screenings at VideOdyssey in Toxteth, including a tour of contemporary Arab cinema
through a diverse selection of short films which explore the 2022 SAFAR festival theme,
‘The Stories We Tell’, and a screening of Khadar Ayderus Ahmed’s The Grave
Digger’s Wife, which centres on a family facing impossible loss, and the lengths one
man will go for his beloved.
The film programme is just one section of the festival using a Pay What You Can
scheme for the first time, in an effort to remove any barriers for people to attend events
Saturday 8 July will bring a double header of literature and spoken word events, kicking
off with Comma Press’s Egypt +100 preview event bringing together featured Egyptian
writers Mansoura Ez-Eldin and Ahmed El-Fakharany with their English translators Paul
Starkey and Robin Moger.
Later that afternoon Liverpool Everyman Bistro will play host to a special Liverpool Arab
Arts Festival version of ‘A Lovely Word’, the city’s most eclectic open-mic spoken word
An online programme will continue to enable audiences to explore what Liverpool Arab
Arts Festival has to offer through podcasts, micro-commissions, talks and workshops.
This includes a digital workshop with Jessica El Mal and Elodie Sacher of A.MAL
who will guide you through approaches to working with family archives.
Festival Chair Afrah Qassim says,
“It gives me so much pleasure to reveal our full, rich and exciting programme, which has
been carefully created to ensure there is something for everyone, and to remove as
many barriers to joining in as possible.”
“Our theme this year is all about how we create a bridge, connecting language and
culture. It is about how we discover what we have in common and how we
communicate, and for ten days in July, we invite you to explore these points of
connection with artists from around the globe.”
For full information and to book tickets visit www.arabartsfestival.com